The US government and Irish Americans have been urged to support Sinn Féin’s call for the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, party President Gerry Adams said that politicians he had spoken to in Washington were “absolutely flabbergasted” that the assembly remains suspended.
“I mean, all these congress members fight elections all the time. They just don’t understand how you can fight an election and then have no assembly to go to,” he said.
“We have an assembly that never meets. So we’ve said to Mr Blair and the Toaiseach that we want that assembly put in place before early summer and we’re calling on people here to support us,”
Adams was speaking to reporters prior to addressing an early morning gathering of Friends of Sinn Féin at the Capital Hilton.
“We will not have any part of any provisional or shadow, or any type of an assembly, which falls short of the Good Friday agreement. And why should we?” Mr Adams said.
“The job and the responsibility of the two government is to uphold the agreement.”
Mr Adams said that, when the IRA called an end to its armed campaign and completed decommissioning last year, “the IRA did the right thing. And it was a mighty thing”.
He said the fact that the DUP has been allowed to continue to block the restoration of the assembly and executive, even after the IRA’s moves, sent a bad message to republican heartlands.
“Imagine you are a young republican back home in Crossmaglen or south Tyrone or west Belfast. And that republican freedom-fighters take these big, generous initiatives, and they’re opponents are looking for other excuses, looking for other reasons not to engage properly.”
Speaking to his audience of supporters, Mr Adams said that if the DUP refuses to participate in the assembly, the British and Irish governments should now “set the assembly aside. It can be returned to at some other point in the future. But we don’t have a Bill of Rights. We don’t have an equality agenda. We still haven’t cracked the issue of policing”.
He said that, regardless of what the DUP does, the governments must tackle long-standing economic and social issues that are the “residue of discrimination” in many nationalist areas.
The Sinn Féin leader added that, despite recent peace process roadblocks, “it is a process. We have to keep reminding ourselves of this. For the rest of our lives, and as long as we have the energy, this is what we are going to be about. There is not going to be a moment short of a United Ireland where you’re going to be able to say ‘Well, that’s that done and dusted’. Because there are powerful elements who want to go back to the old ways.”
Mr Adams reminded the audience that Sinn Féin is the “largest pro-agreement party in the North. We’re the third largest party on the island of Ireland. And that’s all been accomplished in a short ten years. So if you want to know why our opponents are messing about, there’s the reason, they fear the growth of Sinn Féin.”
On a more positive note, Mr Adams added, Irish-Americans who’d stood by republicans for decades, particularly when it was an unpopular thing to do, “can sit back and feel a sense of pride” at progress made so far.